ABSTRACTWeiser’s Computing, and the most prominent research themes that

ABSTRACTWeiser’s Scientific American article – “The Computer for the 21st
Century” was an inspiration for many researchers to explore more about
Ubiquitous Computing. It is believed that Ubiquitous computing is a natural
advancement in computing starting from first generation mainframe computers to
second generation personal computers to third generation of ubiquitous
computing. However, these shifts and transformations in the computing world has
also raised concerns related to what we want computing to do. This paper
discusses the early work in Ubiquitous Computing, and the most prominent
research themes that were motivated by UbiComp followed by the major concerns
associated with them and future works to address these concerns.CCS
CONCEPTS• Computer systems organization ?
Embedded systems; Redundancy; Robotics • Networks ? Network reliability KEYWORDSACM proceedings, text tagging1?INTRODUCTIONComputers are now a part of our lives. So much that they
disappear into the world around us. As Mark Weiser had mentioned, technologies
are said to have a profound impact if they weave themselves into the fabric of
everyday life, until they are indistinguishable from it 1. With this, he
originated the term ubiquitous computing,
which involves an environment augmented with computers around people. These
computers will continuously provide information and services for people as per
their need and requirements. Since then, constant research work has been going
on with varying names but having the same goal – to seamlessly integrate
computers into our environment. This paper discusses the most prominent research themes that were
motivated by Weiser’s UbiComp research – context-aware computing,
ubiquitous/ambient intelligence and tracking/recording and monitoring and the
major concerns associated with these research themes, and the future work
related to addressing the concerns.2?EARLY WORKIn the late 1988, Weiser along with other researchers at PARC
Xerox Palo Alto Research Center came up with the idea of making a wall-sized
flat panel computer displays. This opened to the idea of ubiquitous computers.
They wanted to put computing in the environmental background, and concentrate
more on human-to-human interfaces. They came up with three technologies to
experiment their UbiComp dream – LiveBoard, ParcPad and ActiveBadge 2. The
ActiveBadge was the harbinger of inch-scale computers. A person’s identity is
broadcasted when he is wearing this, there by triggering automatic events such as
doors opening, computer displaying personalized content. These were called tabs. ParcPad was proposed to be used to
replace papers and reminders on a desk. The LiveBoard, also known as yard-sized
displays, was created to serve as an electronic board which can record things
that are written on it, or act as a collaborative board for users from
different locations 1. This project at PARC attracted many patents and papers
from different areas of computer science, there by resulting in the creation of
a new field – Ubiquitous Computing.   3?CONTEXT AWARE COMPUTINGContext-aware computing aims at sensing, identifying and locating
human’s movements, actions and routines. Thus, this information can be used to
provide necessary information that can help, assist or augment human(s) 3. It
has been noted, based on the projects and experiments conducted under this
heading, that ubiquitous computing can sometimes be referred as context-aware
computing 4. The reason behind this concept is to find ways to compensate
human cognition limitations. Computational and sensor based tools can be used
to augment human cognitive activities such as learning, decision making, etc.
One of the major concern is the data – what to sense in what form and how to
represent that collected data to augment a task. Even though the recent technological
advancements provide ways to collect more accurate data, it is still believed
that these systems will be successful only in a highly constrained environment
due to the unpredictable human behavior.  4    UBIQUITOUS
AND AMBIENT INTELLIGENCEUbiquitous and ambient
intelligence, which forms a part of both the physical and the digital world,
will predict people’s needs and respond based on that 3. For instance,
instead of typing and browsing the web manually, the smart web will find us the
required information. This can be achieved through computer vision,
gesture-based detection, speech recognition combined with artificial
intelligence and sensor networks. But, just like context-aware computing, even
ambient intelligence is long way off with respect to accuracy.  5    TRACKING/RECORDING AND MONITORINGSmart Homes equipped with
intelligent systems and sensor networks for the elderly, which can automate and
continuously observe and monitor their health, is an example 5. These
technologies will help the elderly to monitor and take care of their own
health, assist them in their daily activities, create avenues for social
communication and entertainment, and ensure wellbeing and security 6. But
these projects have turned out to be overwhelming as they are tightly intertwined
with privacy and ethical issues related to monitoring people.6    CONCERNSAs
discussed by Banon in 7, the real concern is that relatively less attention
is being given to the fundamental issues related to the people who are the
center of investigation. For instance, technologies that aim to assist elderly
people, when viewed from their point of view, seems to be unclear on how they
address the participant’s basic needs. Elderly people would like to have a
sense of belonging, the need to be in contact with their family in a natural way,
and not being closely monitored in a control environment. Banon believes that
when performing such research, more attention must be paid to the stakeholders
involved and it should reflect on our own values and attitude.Digital
technologies have become a very essential part of human lives. The relationship
between computers and humans have been constantly evolving, and these changes
also lead to rise in questions about what role computers will play in humans
lives in future. In 8, these upcoming transformations have been summarized in
order to highlight the issues and concerns that needs to be addressed in the
future research and development. The transformations are:1.       the end of interface
the growth
of techno-dependency3.      
the growth
of hyper-connectivity4.      
the end of
the ephemeral The authors believe that these are the main ways in which human’s
interactions with computers will be transformed as we approach the near future.
As people are becoming more hyper-connected, and their conversations, actions
and interactions are increasingly being depended and etched to digital
landscapes, it is no surprise that the digital technology in the future years
will be different from today. This has led to questions such as what we want
the computing to do for humans, resulting in the need to shift the emphasis on
a new frame for research where human values are put at the center stage.7    NEW DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCHAbowd made a bold prediction in 10 about the fourth generation of
computing as a natural progression following the first three generations in
computing. One computer was serving many individuals in the first-generation
computing. Then came the era where one computer per individual was dominant. Followed
by which is the third generation, the ubiquitous computing. Abowd mentions
that, all the three generations saw a division between the computing device and
individual, while the fourth generation may no longer abide by that division,
and that the human-computer experience will be more amalgamated than before. To realize Abowd’s prediction, the focus of attention needs to move
away from production and processing of information towards design and
evaluation of systems that give more importance to human values. This demands
addition of conceptual analysis, where human values are also taken into consideration,
to the traditional research models that are used to develop human-centered
technologies. This in turn will require a change in how the researchers
understand the user, how the studies are being carried out in the field or the
laboratory, how the values are being reflected in the design, how to build
prototype and evaluate the designs. 8    CONCLUSION

Human-centered research space is changing continuously as technology
and people are evolving, and so is their relationship. People are becoming more
depended on technology, and it transforms the way they live. Home, schools,
offices, public places, and even human bodies have now become potential
research artifacts to embed computational devices. And there is no doubt that
Ubiquitous computing had played a major role in realizing this dream. But amidst
all the rapid technological advancements, it is necessary to reconsider what we
want the computers to do for us, and how we want it to do for us. 

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